Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Waving Good-Bye to Pittsburgh...

By CJ Lyons

Hey again! Thanks to everyone at Working Stiffs for inviting me back! For those of you who don't know me, I'm CJ Lyons, native of central PA, pediatric ER doc who did her training in Pittsburgh, now turned bestselling medical suspense author.

I've written before about why Pittsburgh has such a strong hold on my heart and psyche, so much so that I set my Angels of Mercy series in Pittsburgh.

But now the Angels of Mercy series (LIFELINES, WARNING SIGNS, URGENT CARE, and CRITICAL CONDITION) is coming to an end...insert tragic sobbing here...

Don't worry, it ends with a bang! The finale, CRITICAL CONDITION (due out November 30th) is an adrenalin rush of a ride that wraps up everything, hopefully with some twists and turns. Early reviews are calling it "a fantastic fast-paced finish," I call it: Die Hard in a hospital.

Only with some Pittsburgh weather thrown in....remember all that snow in February? Remember how a few of the smaller hospitals lost power (including one that also lost emergency power) along with areas in the rest of the county?

Guess what--I'd already written all that into CRITICAL CONDITION! It was kind of cool watching (from a safe distance as I no longer live in the snowbelt) the events I'd imagined unfold in real life.

Maybe not so fun for you guys, so sorry, lol!

Since I'm not much for farewells, I wanted to send my characters off with a blast before I move a little bit south. Not so far from Pittsburgh, in fact.

My new series is co-written with Erin Brockovich (yes, THE Erin B, how cool is that?!?) and the first book, ROCK BOTTOM, is set in West Virginia. I actually fictionalized a small coal mining town where I used to spend my college breaks.

Guess you can leave the rust belt, but you can't take the rust belt out of the girl, or something like that!

I can't help it. Not only because I grew up and lived most of my life in PA, but also because there's just something so authentic and universal about what "my" people live and experience that I feel this need to share it with the world at large.

What about you? What would you want the rest of the world to know about Pittsburghers? Would you ever leave? If so, what memories would you most want to take with you?

For me, it's the memories of the used-to-be annual Pitt-PSU football games that dominated my family's holiday celebrations...well, that and my autograph from one of my childhood heroes, Lynn Swann....oh and how about those home-made pierogies during Lent…and Pamela's pancakes…and….

Share your favorite Pittsburgh memory in the comments below and one lucky reader will win a copy of URGENT CARE, the book that sets everything in motion for the Angels of Mercy finale, CRITICAL CONDITION.

Thanks for reading!


As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about. In addition to being an award-winning medical suspense author, CJ is a nationally known presenter and keynote speaker.

Her first novel, LIFELINES (Berkley, March 2008), received praise as a "breathtakingly fast-paced medical thriller" from Publishers Weekly, was reviewed favorably by the Baltimore Sun and Newsday, named a Top Pick by Romantic Times Book Review Magazine, and became a National Bestseller. Her award-winning, critically acclaimed Angels of Mercy series (LIFELINES, WARNING SIGNS, and URGENT CARE) is available now and the series finale, CRITICAL CONDITION, hits stores November, 2010. Her newest project is as co-author of a new suspense series with Erin Brockovich.

To learn more about CJ and her work, go to http://www.cjlyons.net/.


Mary Vaughn said...

You can leave Pittsburgh but Pittsburgh will never leave you. Pittsburghers are the greatest people in the world. They are faithful to each other and believe me you don't find that everywhere.
No matter how long you are away, you are never gone from Pittsburgh.

Gina said...

C.J. -

Picking one special thing about Pittsburgh is difficult, and I'm not even a sports fan. I tell people I've lived in Pittsburgh all my life, although I was actually born in Wilkinsburg and even lived in Detroit for awhile in infancy. Would I ever leave? I'm not sure.

I think my favorite thing in Pittsburgh is the Cathedral of Learning - that tall Gothic imitation castle on the Pitt campus. It encapsulates so much of how we yinzers tend to reach for the sky in non-traditional ways.

Joyce Tremel said...

Welcome back, CJ! I can't wait to read the new book. I love the tagline "Die Hard in a hospital."

It's true that you can never truly leave Pittsburgh. My older son lives in the DC area, and there are several "Pittsburgh" bars down there. He loves hockey and goes to one that shows all the Pens games.

My younger son lives in Bloomfield and you'd probably recognize exactly where!

One of my favorite things about the 'burgh is the view at night when you emerge from the Fort Pitt tunnel. Awesome.

CJ Lyons said...

Mary, so very true! No matter where I go I meet Pittsburghers (usually recognized by their Steelers' emblems) and they are always welcomed!

In fact, being from Pittsburgh is one of the reasons why I never had to pay for a drink while I was in Ireland...but that's another story, lol!

CJ Lyons said...

Gina, I love the Cathedral! That and PPG place are my favorite Pittsburgh landmarks, well plus the Smithfield Bridge and some of the churches and....hmmm, guess it's hard to pick just one!

CJ Lyons said...

Joyce, I love that view! I actually included it in the first version of Lifelines but my editor cut it (boo, hoo) and had me start with her at the hospital instead.

CJ Lyons said...

Hey guys, just a heads up, I'm visiting family in the mountains and the internet here is very unpredictable...I've got it working now, but who knows about the rest of the day. So if I'm quiet, don't take it personally, I'll try to stay caught up with the chatting as best I can.

Thanks for understanding!

Annette said...

Welcome back to Working Stiffs, CJ! And Pittsburgh welcomes you back anytime you want to come for a visit or to stay.

I'm looking forward to the next (and last --weeping, weeping!) Angels of Mercy novel, too. I'm also looking forward to the new one set in West Virginia, since most of my family is from there.

One of the things I love about Pittsburgh is the mix of the old and the new. Structures of glass and steel surrounding old stone buildings. A modern park with the footprint of an 18th century fort in the middle of it. Love it!

CJ Lyons said...

Hey Annette!

I think you're right--Pittsburgh is one of those cities that has history without feeling "old"...I also love all the different ethnicities that are embraced by the city.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Thanks for stopping by, CJ. Let's see, Pittsburg...

I was there for business once. The one thing that sticks out is the old Mellon Arena. Like a partially buried golf ball.

If I'm not mistaken, the old building is in it's last season. Another classic hockey venue biting the dust.

CJ Lyons said...

I have fond memories of watching games that led to two Stanley cups at the old arena while I was a resident....good times!

Jennie Bentley said...

Thanks for visiting with us again, CJ! I really enjoyed seeing you last month in Columbus, and FYI, I had occasion to talk to Barbara this weekend, too, when she came to town for an event. She told me some of the latest news. Glad things are going so well for you! Good luck with all the new projects, and you know... even if you're not writing about Pittsburgh anymore, you're always welcome on the Stiffs! xoxo

CJ Lyons said...

Thanks Jennie! Glad you guys had fun in Nashville!

Gina said...

Right, C.J., PPG Place. Driving into town on the Boulevard of the Allies on a foggy morning, it looks like a fairy tale castle balanced on a cloud.

And the Arena - like I said, I'm not a sports fan, but I'll always remember the Folk Festival finales, when all the performers from Pittsburgh's diverse ethnicities in their colorful costumes would gather on stage to sing, "This Land is Your Land" while the dome opened to reveal the beautiful night sky.

CJ Lyons said...

Gina, I actually used the "fairy tale castle" image in a book, Nerves of Steel set in Pittsburgh!!!

Never got to see the festival with the singing, sounds like fun!

Patg said...

I was raised in Wilkes Barre, so a PAer of sorts. All I remember about Pittsburgh over the years is the airport.

CJ Lyons said...

Hey Pat! I used to love going to that airport--we'd go and watch the planes from the observation deck (ages ago!)

Now it seems so sad and empty there....

Gina said...

The airport! Nowadays, you have to watch the planes from outside. I had the great good fortune to spend a few years working at a facility right beside the airport - it was amazing when, on a cloudy day, I would hear a plane and look up to watch it slowly appear in the clouds - first an indistinct shape that grew ever clearer until suddenly a huge plane would burst out of the clouds. Way cool.

CJ Lyons said...

Sounds cool, Gina! thanks for stopping by!